After a week of brilliant flying in beautiful Candidasa, Bali, it’s time for the majority of the Cloudbase crew to pack up their wings and fly back to Australia. Me and Rich have stayed on for a few days, however, to continue flying in paradise with our mates Jules, Lewis and Dr Pete, a man best described as a ‘unique individual’ and one of the smoothest operators I’ve ever met. The flying’s been incredible, really tranquil and plenty of fun, and with nearly empty skies I’ve been able to work on my turns, chase thermals, and increase my confidence in the sky. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been with my flying, and I really feel like my skills have taken a massive step up – but things have been eventful.
The day’s airborne adventures were cut short when a frighteningly huge storm cell rolled in, and we decided to head to the nearby Black Sand Beach for a few Bintangs, rather than stay in the sky to be tossed harder than a frustrated virgin’s pecker. After pulling off the best landing of my life (the words of advice finally worked, Mark!), it was off to the village’s tiny general store for the customary post-flight feast of icy cold beer and fried chicken skin. I’ve had some cracking afternoons sitting outside that general store, with friends old and new (and old and young, to be honest). Flying is brilliant and the ultimate drug, but the social aspect of paragliding is what really makes it the king of sports.
One Bintang turned into six, and soon me and the Hamster were becoming animated. I pulled out my phone and filled the dusty village with the feel-good beats of legendary 80s pop group Wang Chung, and we started boot scooting through the palm trees, which startled a group of small children who were using a dead chicken as a football. The locals had seen and heard enough (they must’ve been Duran Duran fans – there’s no accounting for taste) and ordered us into the back of a bright green truck with blood smears on the side. I yelled out to the driver to ask him what they usually carried in the truck, because it smelled awful.
“Mainly rice and rapist for execution,” he shrugged, and climbed into the front seat. He started it up and drove us away from the beach in a cloud of smoke while people danced around us.
As we bumped along the bumpy road the Indos raced out of their shacks to watch us cruising through the village. They laughed and cheered and threw flowers, obviously excited by the prospect of seeing a group of sex offenders get beheaded for their pleasure. Despite being in the back of the Gary Glitter Rape Wagon I felt like the queen, and waved to the little people as we passed. Unfortunately, bright green trucks designed for hauling paedophiles aren’t very comfortable, and were for thrown around as it bumped along the road. Palm fronds and electrical cables reached for us, and a moment’s lapse in concentration was enough to be beheaded by by a stray branch. I managed to dodge most of them, but then disaster struck. A jolt knocked me towards the back of the truck and a jagged palm frond lashed at my clothes and tore them off my body, leaving me rolling around the bed in my undies.
Rich, never one to miss an opportunity to defrock, tore off his clothes and tossed them out the back, where they hit an unsuspecting motorcyclist in the face and caused him to crash into a stray dog. The truck driver had every reason to keep driving us to Kerobokan Prison, but thankfully he took us back to our palatial accommodation at the Puri Oka Hotel, before using a rusty machete to force us out of the back of the truck. The small crowd who had gathered around us slumped off in despair when they discovered we weren’t going to be executed for their entertainment.
Despite being paraded around in the back of the Jimmy Savile Express, threatened and laughed at, it was one of the best days I’ve ever had, and another high spot in what has become one of the best and most insane holidays I’ve ever had. As the sun slid behind the horizon, we did our best to raise the stock price of Bintang and I did my best to win the heart of a beautiful young lady. What can I say, it’s a life…